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08 March 2007 @ 03:00 pm
Battlestar Galactica 3.17 Maelstrom (Part 2)  
No, 'Part 1' was not a typo, I always intended to write more, but it's taken me a while to get there because this half is a lot more challenging for me to write about.

Hmmm. So, this will be the less glowing part of my Maelstrom review. If you noticed in the first half of my review, I concentrated on everyone other than Kara. In part, that's because I don't feel as confident talking about her. It's also because I had quite seriously conflicted emotions regarding her plot in this episode.

rivkat pointed out the self-contradiction in Kara accepting her 'special destiny' as ... death, and this gets to the heart of what felt odd about this episode. Yes, I do think Kara's destiny is bigger than this. Yes, we got a lot of anvilly moments about 'all this has happened before and will happen again', but Kara herself in this episode really seems to be accepting DEATH. Death, death. Not going forward into some 'special destiny' other dimension-y 'death'. Until those last final ambiguous moments, she acts like someone who is going to commit suicide: she gives away precious tokens, she talks about how she wants to be remembered, she (unconsciously perhaps) touches base one last time with those important to her, she talks wistfully of what will never be... And most controversially of all, she reconciles (?!) with her abusive mother.

While I didn't share it, I can understand why some viewers will share mskatej's total hatred of this episode. I do think this episode will only fully make sense in the larger context of the season (and series) overall. But since I'm unspoiled, I'll leave that aside for now. (I already speculated extensively in Part 1 anyway!)

I found the abuse scenes very challenging to watch. I was surprised they went as far as they did and I think I would have found them gratuitous were it not for the fact that they reflected Kara herself opening up to others more than ever before. It made me so happy to hear her talk to Sam about her past (and only I tiny bit jealous on Lee's behalf, I swear!). Sam is an absolute sweetheart and he has an important role in Kara's life: it was good to have that confirmed by the implication that they'd already discussed it. But it's only right before death that Kara tells Sam about her fingers being broken and about the revenge on her mother that led to that. That indicates the weighty signficance of those events. To be honest, I felt sick when Kara said 'it was worth it'. So she's learnt that cruel (and comic) revenge is worth any amount of pain and punishment. That explains a lot about Kara.

What troubled me most was the implied validation of what Kara's mother did to her. The oracle says that her mother was trying to teach her that she was 'special'. Well, that's the world's worst way. Yes, it has made Starbuck a knife-sharp killer who doesn't flinch in the face of pain, but how is that connected to her 'destiny'? (And in a broader sense, how is that good? Especially to the Cylons, if that's where her destiny is leading her.)

The episode also argued that she was afraid of death. I don't know if I'm convinced by that because Starbuck's always seemed so fearless. However, there were moments while watching the episode that I did feel that yes, perhaps she's just taken herself to the edge of death so so many times that she superficially appears blase, but actually she's testing herself because she's afraid. I think I gleaned that largely from Katee's spectacular performance, because the writing felt odd in places.

Her reconciliation with her mother is very difficult for me to write about. It definitely contributed to my sense that there was a kind of validating of all that Kara had gone through--that old 'suffer to be stronger' idea. I really wasn't convinced that reconciling with her mother was something Kara needed to do. I think we're meant to believe it helped her, but ... I don't know. While I do understand that despite everything, an abused child may wish to reconnect with their parent and not abandon them before death, I don't think that it's always constructive. Is it constructive for Kara? I don't know. Head!Leoben argued that facing her mother's death would help Kara face her own. Frankly I don't see the connection at all. Dealing with grief about a parent who hurt you that much is not the same as facing your own mortality. But the episode seemed to assert that yes, Kara was 'ready' for death and revisiting her mother was part of that.

*frowns* I don't really have any answers on all of this--just a whole lot of questions and an unsettled feeling in my stomach. I hope that this will all be clearer in light of the episodes ahead.

Meanwhile I have (surprise!) been thinking some more about Lee and how he'll handle his grief for Kara. As I mentioned in Part I, I think Lee is in a stronger position emotionally than we've ever seen him before. But no, he's not prepared for this. However, I do think we will see him do absolutely everything in his power to 'manage' his grief. To be the perfect CAG, to be the perfect son, to shoulder other people's burdens, to make something of his life. I can see him driving himself harder than ever before. I'm not even sure we'll see him completely lose it in grief before he drives himself forward. I think it's more likely that he'll push it down. Even if he goes through formal grieving processes like placing her photo where she asked, I don't think that will be superficial at best. Nothing could reflect the true depths of his grief for Kara, other than burning himself alive with her; I think instead he'll burn himself out in living.

There are many things that lead me to suggesting this. He's limited in the amount of grief he can show for her publicly by self-consciousness about the fact he's married to Dee. And he's finally in a place where he won't want to hurt Dee by losing it over Kara. And then there's his father who will also be grieving. I think Lee will be determined to handle his grief for him. (I actually think it will be interesting to see whether they actually talk about it or whether it becomes a huge gaping silence between them--could go either way, I reckon, despite their relationship being more communicative than ever before.)

I'm not saying we'll never see Lee demonstrate grief--on the contrary, I think everything he does from now on will be in some way coloured by Kara's death. And I think he will have to deal with her death at a deeper level at some stage. I'm just not sure it will be immediate--or alternatively, what he does in the immediate term won't be the end of the story.

brokenmnemonic mentioned how Lee kept saying 'we can still get out of this' (emphasis mine). This episode paired them in such a strong way--stronger than all the shippy to-ing and fro-ing--it paired them at a destiny level as having connected fates. And I think that will continue to be true after Kara's death--I think Lee's fate, whatever it is, will be linked to Kara's. (Of course, everyone's may be linked to Kara's if she finds Earth...) And that's partly why I'm thinking more big-picture about his grief for her--it won't be a one-off Lee-completely-loses-it-and-binges-on-noodles (*snerk*) scenario, it will be long and complicated and it will resonate throughout his whole life.

I could be completely wrong. This show is good at taking twists that I never saw coming. *glares at it reproachfully* And now, having once again, talked more about Lee Adama than anyone ever wants to hear, *g*, I'm off to listen to some comfort music because my heart's still aching.

ETA2: queenofthorns says some wonderful things about the parallel with Zak's death and the way Lee's and Kara's deaths are contrasted which I wholeheartedly agree with.

ETA: If I type 'Battelstar' instead of 'Battlestar' one more time, I'm going to shoot myself. My typos are really irritating me!
 
 
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blowjobs for jesuskristiinthedark on March 8th, 2007 09:31 am (UTC)
I can certainly see what this ep hit people the wrong way, but I don't think Kara was accepting death as her destiny. I saw it as she was accepting the unknown. That she was trusting that she wouldn't die, that there as something "other" for her.

And, god, it makes complete sense to me that Kara had to reconcile with her mother. It was as if she had to make peace with who she was, so she could become who she was going to be. I totally get that. Not delving too much into it, but I was the child of an abusive parent, and I certainly have had to make peace with him and accept what he did, and really "why", without actually condoning it, you know? Otherwise, I would have never grown as a person, and I would've just been eaten away by bitterness and hate. I don't know if I'm explaining myself very well, as it's early. :P

Anyway, just my thoughts.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: DW woebop_radar on March 8th, 2007 10:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Kristi! See I knew Kara fans like you would come and help me out! *hugs* I'm really glad you defended the episode's slant with Kara, and I think you expressed yourself very clearly.

I saw it as she was accepting the unknown. That she was trusting that she wouldn't die, that there as something "other" for her.
Ok, I can see that, because that's what it felt like in the moment of her 'death'. I think I was bogged down by taking the text to literally--Head!Leoben went on and on about facing death, and I didn't really think beyond that.

as if she had to make peace with who she was, so she could become who she was going to be. I totally get that
OK. That's what I was curious about--was it helpful for Kara? And evidently the answer is yes. Our personal experiences do shape the way we view things, like it or not. My family has a shameful tradition of formally disowning one's (abusive) parents--it's a multi-generational tradition!--and so I guess I really just don't know about making peace with the past. The honest truth is, I haven't, and my father hasn't, and... *flails* I guess I just don't know anything about that. :-( (Hey, remember how I'm Lee? I can talk to my father now, but I'm not sure I've forgiven him? Eaten away by bitterness ... sounds familiar.)
blowjobs for jesus: nonfandom cute kittenskristiinthedark on March 9th, 2007 01:00 am (UTC)
*nodsnods* I see where you're coming from, too! There's something to be said for cutting the offender out of your life, at least emotionally. In Kara's case, though, that wasn't working so well. Talk about destructive behavior!

*curls up with you*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara/Lee boxing hugbop_radar on March 9th, 2007 01:29 am (UTC)
Good point! It wasn't as if Kara had found an alternative path to healthiness. I know some Kara fans would rather she stay in denial, because that's the Kara they know, but personally I'd like to see her move out of that destructive place for her own sake.

*snuggles*
daybreak777: sunsetdaybreak777 on March 8th, 2007 10:54 am (UTC)
Gosh, sometimes it's like you've read my mind! I was just writing similar thoughts in another thread.

It definitely contributed to my sense that there was a kind of validating of all that Kara had gone through--that old 'suffer to be stronger' idea.

This reminded me uncomfortably of Leoben and Kara in that apartment. Her apologizing for being difficult. Was he making her suffer to make her stronger? Eww! But still strangely compelling . . .

I was bothered too about the acceptance of death too. The timing seems odd. It simply hasn't been in Kara's character before. But I like what kristiinthedark says above. Kara is becoming something, going toward something. You have to let go of the past sometimes in order to grow and embrace new experiences. That sounds cheesy but it's kinda true.

I think Lee's fate, whatever it is, will be linked to Kara's.

Umm, yes! I also wrote this in response to Part 1 of your episode reaction. Glad I'm not alone in thinking this. I'm currently unspoiled and determined to stay that way, but I think Lee has a role in this. Everyone has their part to play. Lee's role with Kara may be bigger than we think . . .

Pure spec on my part but I'm getting into this destiny thing, the writers better make good on it.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lee's farewellbop_radar on March 8th, 2007 11:05 pm (UTC)
Was he making her suffer to make her stronger?
I strongly suspect that's what he thinks he was doing. I think he thinks that abuse is a way to push through to someone, to access some inner 'self' that will then 'connect' with him/a greater destiny. I did find them strangely compelling. I made a vid of them, and doing that allowed me to explore a lot about them in a very different way to meta. I think semi-intentionally Leoben's behaviour echoes the abuse that Kara received from her mother. Her mother's abuse was physical, Leoben's is emotional/intellectual--but he 'accesses' her abused child self, brings it to the foreground. Where I'm still left confused is whether Leoben himself expected this. The Leoben we saw in this episode is not really Leoben so... ?

You have to let go of the past sometimes in order to grow and embrace new experiences.
I agree, and I'm not as uncomfortable with this as some people. But I guess I'm also not as comfortable with it as others either. I do believe that there are different ways of achieving peace with the past and not all of them involve actually confronting your abuser. But kristiinthedark helped me see where that idea for Kara came from.

I'm getting into this destiny thing, the writers better make good on it.
Ditto! I've always loved that about them--I have a huge thing for destined pairs, especially the tragic amd epic kind. You're definitely not alone in thinking Lee will have some greater role to play in connection with Kara and, er, destiny.
sarmoti: BSG - Lee/principlessarmoti on March 8th, 2007 01:14 pm (UTC)
I think everything he does from now on will be in some way coloured by Kara's death.

I'm wondering if maybe Lee will quit the military at the end of the season. Not in an "I can't fly without my Kara!" sort of way (although the shipper in me says, yes, that would be part of it too) but because he will get really passionate about law while working on Baltar's trial. And just as Kara lived life to the fullest, Lee will want to chase this thrill, this new direction. He will want pursue this other career, this other possibility in life, instead of taking the "safe" route by just continuing to be what he's been for years. Pure spec though, I don't really know where they're going with all this.

Great to read your thoughts as usual. I may have to come back and read in more detail once I'm not in a rush to get ready for work. :)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Pilots: co-pathetic foreverbop_radar on March 8th, 2007 11:11 pm (UTC)
I love your suggestion! I think it's highly likely. It makes instinctive sense to me that Lee would feel even more driven to pursue an interest other than the military now. At so many levels, I think he'll have no reason not to any more:
- he can't be Starbuck, no matter how hard he tries
- at a subconscious (shippy) level, flying won't be the same without Kara, no matter how hard he tries
- he's reaching the end of the line with the military anyway, since the only way 'up' is for his father to die
- where previously he may have lacked the determination to pursue this interest despite his father, he's stronger than ever AND he's going to be even more driven post-Kara.
At a vaguer level, it makes instinctive sense to me that Lee would be more of a risk taker without Kara around. I've always been fascinated by the way that when separate from one another, Lee is more of a rule-breaker and Kara is more conservative.

That is an absolutely gorgeous icon, by the way.
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lee's farewellbop_radar on March 9th, 2007 03:04 am (UTC)
Oh, yes, that too! That works so well! Damn. Yes, of course. This is a decision he made as CAG and he'll see it as his greatest failure. I've been trying to visualise him facing the pilots, standing in front of them again, without Kara (because, god, she always hovered at his shoulder, or bantered or generally made her presence felt) and I just can't.
sarmoti: BSG - Lee intensesarmoti on March 9th, 2007 03:14 am (UTC)
- he's reaching the end of the line with the military anyway, since the only way 'up' is for his father to die

It's like he's in the holding pattern until the old man croaks, and after a while that stops being fulfilling. (I think there was an interview where Lee described Adama as Queen Elizabeth and Lee as Prince Charles. Funny imagery aside, it's pretty true.) Plus, does he really WANT to command the fleet? We don't know, and maybe Lee doesn't know either. So he's definitely in a position to be mulling over all of this and seriously consider what he wants to do with the rest of his life. Damn, the more I write about this the more I can't wait for the next episode! Lawyer Lee!

If he quits the military (or even just contemplates quitting) it could also cause some interesting tension with Dee (who seems pretty committed to the military) and then maybe the two of them would have a storyline that I actually believe and care about. :)

And if he quits maybe he'll work alongside Roslin in some capacity! Eee!

I should really stop speculating though cause just imagine how sadly disappointed I will become when none of this happens. :)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lee thinking hmmbop_radar on March 9th, 2007 03:20 am (UTC)
I'm right there with you! I'd love all of these things to happen (and I agree that Lee may not know whether he really wants to command the fleet or not) and I usually avoid speculating too much because of the letdown factor... but Lawyer!Lee is a Lee I am dying to see and I'm just desperate for more of the show fullstop. I hope it won't be a letdown. It's going to be hard to follow up on this ep.
(no subject) - bloodygoodgirl on March 9th, 2007 03:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara/Lee collapsedbop_radar on March 9th, 2007 04:33 am (UTC)
Helo shaving was SO HOT! :-) He should always shave. *nods*

No, I can't remember about Kara's father...
Romany: bsg: starbuck joyful girl by _ebromanyg on March 20th, 2007 11:29 pm (UTC)
I really hope that TPB do have some 'other-placeness', besides death, for Kara. All the build-up of destiny to result in something so pointless *is* a point but not the one that they've been making for the past three years.

Re: her 'reconciliation' with her mother, Kara has such a strong legacy--her religiousness, her conservative streak, her need for military order even as she defies it--that she needs to face that part of her mother within her. I didn't see it as literal, but more as self-integration.

And considering her abusive relationship with Leoben--as abuser and the abused--she needed to connect with that part of her past rather than run from it.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Leebop_radar on March 21st, 2007 01:52 am (UTC)
All the build-up of destiny to result in something so pointless *is* a point but not the one that they've been making for the past three years.
Nicely put and I completely agree. And yes, since making this post I've resolved my issues with her 'reconciliation', thanks to some lovely meta posts on the subject.

But I still want Kara back! :-( I misses her! *is woobie*